As the government pours billions of dollars into the struggling U.S. banking system, it's apparently coming up with another type of rescue—jobs for financial professionals.
"I used to be with Lehman Brothers before the collapse," says 30 year old Pinki Mishra a former investment banker, who will start a job this month as a financial analyst with the Congressional Budget Office.
"But after looking at my job options in January, I took this position with the CBO. It gives me the chance to stay in finance and I'm glad for that," says Mishra.
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Mishra is just part of a private banking 'exodus' to government work, says Alex Slater, managing director of the Glover Park Group, a public affairs consulting firm in Washington D.C., whose clients include banks, hedge funds and private equity groups.
'With the government on steroids so to speak, and the recession, there's never been a greater flow of intellectual capital from Wall Street to Washington in my career," Slater says.
A look at usajobs.gov, the Federal government's job web site shows that some 3,825 jobs come up in a search with the term finance, some 2,395 openings are listed for accounting and 631 jobs show up for the term banking.
The U.S.Treasury web site says the department is looking for experience in these areas:
- Banking and Finance Attorneys
- Risk Management
- Equity Analysis
- Financial Institution Analysis
Salaries at the Treasury can range from $143,000 up to $196,700 a year.
And the SEC says it needs experience in the following areas:
- Industry professionals
Salaries were as low as $72,000 a year at the SEC in 2002, buy now are closer to $135,000 a year including bonuses.
Benefits for government work can include:
- 10 paid federal holidays
- 13 – 26 days of vacation
- 13 days of sick leave each year
- Flexible work schedules and/or telework
- Choice of subsidized health insurance
- Portable 401(k) type savings and investment plan with matching contributions
- Pension plan
- Public transportation subsidies
- Tuition assistance and student loan repayment
Programs like TARP and TALF are spending billions and that amount of money is turning into job opportunities says Carlos Arboleda, practice director of the banking and financial service group at recruiting firm Stephen James Associates.
"We are waiting for a few Federal government projects to come through for us," Arboleda says. "Those projects may yield upwards of 1,000 openings for us to fill."
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"We've added a government sector to our home page," says John Benson, founder and CEO of eFinancialCareers.com, a global career site for financial service professionals.
"Jobs from Fannie Mae (NYSE: fnm) and the Financial Reserve Bank of New York are just a sample of the positions posted," Benson says.
And while the government looks to hire financial professionals, Arboleda sees some small upticks in the commercial banking job sector from more government regulation.
"There's still a lot of unemployment in banking," says Arboleda. "But it's improving a lot. Regional commercial banks need credit officers and there's more openings on the accounting side. I've never seen so much opportunity in banking in ten years for the right person."
But if there's one part of banking not seeing any job growth, it's investment banking says Jim Gardner, Chairman of Commerce Steel Capital, an investment banking firm.
"Most big banks are still reducing staff," Gardner says. "Investment banks are still going to have a rough time for another year. The same for commercial banks too."
Efinancial.com's Benson agrees. "The number of jobs posted on our site from investment banks is down 45 percent in the first quarter from the same time last year," says Benson.
But even as the industry struggles, there could be a new era in banking, according to Roger Jenkins, Dean, Farmer School of Business at Miami University in Ohio.
"Bank recruiters are asking me for more students with financial analysis background and internal risk management," says Jenkins, who's helping to place recruits wi the Federal Reserve System. "It's different from the pure 'quant jocks' that were in great demand during the 'deal a minute investment banking days.'"
For those in the financial industry thinking about government jobs, now is the time says David DeBoskey, an accounting professor at San Diego State University.
"There's a big need for people who know the banking system," DeBoskey says. "The government has a great demand for extra reports, especially when you look at areas like bank stress testing. More regulation means more number crunching and more bodies."
"[Treasury Secretary]Tim Geithner and [Director of White House Economic Counsel ]Larry Summers have Wall Street credentials," says Glover Park Group's Slater. "That's going to trickle down when it comes to what the government needs."
Pinki Mishra found her government job by networking with business school classmates and has just relocated to Washington. She says she'll be working on the bank stress test government program and specifically, whether banks such as Goldman will be able to pay back the TARP funds.
"One of the key things for me was to be able to work with talented people," Mishra says. "I can do that here and I'm satisfied with the compensation and benefits."
"And it's a permanent job," says Mishra.
That stability is what others in the field find attractive, says Ruben Gonzales Carmelo, an international private banker in Miami, Florida, who's been working as a consultant without any benefits.
"A lot of banks are just hiring on a temporary basis," says the 57 year old Carmelo who's been networking with friends to find a permanent position.
"I saw some opportunities at the FDIC web site and I'm going to apply," says Carmelo. "I may take a pay cut, but it's better to do something than just sit around waiting for jobs to happen."
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